We've been on holidays for a few weeks now, and as always, I notice how much I miss the routine of our term time days. In particular, I miss sitting down after a morning's work and reading aloud to the children. It eases us from the focused mood of the morning into the afternoon's more diffuse demands.
It's been an excellent read-aloud year for Snowy. A year of listening to stories upside down on the sofa or at the table with Lego or snuggled in my bed. A year of anticipating the next book, the ones he's now the 'right age' to be read. The ones I've posted about here.
I still read aloud to my big girls and can't imagine a time when I'll stop for good. We started the year with some Sherlock Holmes stories, which had just enough atmosphere to scare us, in a good way. Then Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit - and yes, I cried. We tried two new books after that, When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead ( Arwen's favourite ) and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
I loved this book. There's nothing edgy about it. It's a coming of age narrative, told through the relationship and the shared love of science between Calpurnia, a young girl at the turn of the 19th century, living in a prosperous American family of good standing - with all the expectations that implies - and her somewhat eccentric Grandfather. Although the theme of this book - be true to yourself - is nothing new, it's written in an amusing, reflective and episodic way that lends itself to reading aloud. Calpurnia is a heroine in the style of an Anne Shirley, though perhaps without the hyperbole. This was Lucy's favourite too.
I've written here before about The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. She's a mistress of prose, shapes it and turns it and holds it to the light - her tools are a mastery of suspense, a rich vocabulary, an ear and an eye for image. Reading this book aloud was less entertainment and more an urgent engagement. I'm looking forward to Snowy being the right age for this one...
The girls and I finished the year with an attempt at Great Expectations. They came to see it as a sentence - a chapter a day for the term of their natural lives! - so we returned it to the shelf, after Pip's sudden fortune but long before his fall.
Summer calls them away from structure, away from routines. I'm given a season to plan and make lists, to browse and consider, to borrow or buy. And when February comes we'll lean in to each other on the sofa, new books on my lap, and start reading All Over Again.
When I know what those books will be, I'll share!
What read-alouds are you considering for 2011 ?